It’s a big game for the Dolphins on Sunday, as they still have a shot at making the postseason. However, both teams are banged up. Despite being out of contention, the Jets are playing to win according to head coach Robert Saleh, but Miami will be looking for payback after the Jets blew them out 40-17 in week five. The Dolphins are 3.5 point favorites according to DraftKings Sportsbook.
With Tua Tagovailoa out due to a head injury and Teddy Bridgewater limited all week due to a broken finger on his throwing hand, Miami has to turn to seventh round rookie Skylar Thompson to start this critical game. It’s Thompson’s second career start but he did also see significant action in two other games, including that loss to the Jets in October.
Thompson has 382 passing yards and a touchdown but has also thrown three interceptions and lost two fumbles in his rookie year.
Bridgewater is listed as questionable but there’s a chance he could still be available to back up Thompson. Miami has elevated Mike Glennon as cover having just signed him to the practice squad last week.
The Dolphins have issues at left tackle this week as Terron Armstead, their best offensive lineman and Kendall Lamm, his replacement when he was unable to play last Sunday, are both listed as doubtful. Greg Little will most likely start his seventh game of the season and third at left tackle.
Brandon Shell, who wasn’t even on the practice squad until mid-September, will start on the right. This will be his 11th start of the season and he’s actually done a pretty decent job. Austin Jackson has spent most of the year on injured reserve and the recently-signed Eric Fisher just went onto injured reserve as well, before even getting a chance to play a snap.
At left guard, Liam Eichenberg, made his return to the starting line-up on Sunday after being activated from injured reserve. However, he’s struggled all season and his replacement, Robert Jones, was arguably better.
At least they’ve had some stability at center and right guard where Connor Williams and Robert Hunt have started every game. Hunt has a team-high 11 penalties. Williams has had an excellent season.
Center Michael Deiter and the recently-signed tackle Geron Christian can provide depth along with Jones.
The Dolphins are led in rushing by Raheem Mostert, who has rushed for over 800 yards, scored five total touchdowns and caught 29 passes.
The main change to this unit since the last Jets game is that Miami traded for Jeff Wilson and Chase Edmonds was traded away. Wilson had a 100 yard game against the Browns but hasn’t done much since then.
The third running back is Salvon Ahmed, who rushed for 43 yards and a touchdown against the Bills two weeks ago, but only has five carries otherwise.
Myles Gaskin, last year’s leading rusher, is on injured reserve and fullback Alec Ingold is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game.
Miami has been led by Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle all season. Hill has 117 catches and 1,687 receiving yards to lead the AFC in both categories, while Waddle has over 1,300 yards on 70 catches. The Dolphins have unlocked Waddle’s big play potential this year as he’s leading the NFL in yards per catch having averaged less than 10 yards per reception last year.
Trent Sherfield has been the number three option with 30 receptions this year while River Cracraft and Cedrick Wilson have 20 between them. Wilson is listed as doubtful, though.
Fourth round rookie Erik Ezukanma has been on the roster all season, but he still hasn’t played.
At tight end, Mike Gesicki’s production has been way down on last year, especially in the second half of the season. Although he has five touchdowns, Gesicki has only caught seven passes for 81 yards in the last eight games.
Durham Smythe has been the main reserve with Cethan Carter and Adam Shaheen on injured reserve. Hunter Long and rookie Tanner Conner don’t have a catch between them.
Miami usually uses a four-man rotation on their defensive line, although last week they elevated Josiah Bronson from the practice squad to make five. He has not been elevated this week.
The starters are Christian Wilkins and Zach Sieler at the end positions with Raekwon Davis at nose tackle. Wilkins has had a monster season and leads the team with 18 tackles for loss. He and Sieler have 3.5 sacks each. The main reserve is John Jenkins.
Emmanuel Ogbah also saw some time on the line, mostly on the edge, but he is now on injured reserve.
Miami went all-in with a trade for Bradley Chubb at the deadline, but the move hasn’t really paid off yet, although he does have 2.5 sacks in seven games. He missed last week’s game but is expected to return on Sunday despite being listed as questionable.
Jaelan Phillips and Melvin Ingram were the starters on the edge until Chubb arrived and usurped Ingram. Phillips has seven sacks to lead the team and Ingram has six. Phillips also leads the team in quarterback hits.
The versatile Andrew Van Ginkel is the main reserve and started in place of Chubb last week. Trey Flowers is now on injured reserve but they elevated Brennan Scarlett as additional cover.
On the inside, Elandon Roberts and Jerome Baker start. They’ve combined for 200 tackles and 8.5 sacks but neither has intercepted a pass or recovered a fumble.
Duke Riley is the main reserve on the inside, but Samuel Eguavoen and third round rookie Channing Tindall haven’t played much.
Miami is banged up in the secondary but will get a boost this week as Xavien Howard is expected to make his return after missing last weekend’s game. Howard was given pro bowl recognition despite failing to match last year’s production. He still leads the team with nine pass break-ups though.
With Byron Jones on the PUP list and Nik Needham on injured reserve, the Dolphins had started Keion Crossen and undrafted rookie Kader Kohou last week with Noah Igbinoghene in the nickel.
At safety, starter Brandon Jones is on injured reserve and Eric Rowe is listed as questionable having started last week. Undrafted rookie Verone McKinley is currently the third safety.
The other starter is Jevon Holland, who has had a solid year and is the only Miami player with more than one interception.
Clayton Fejedelem, Justin Bethel and Elijah Campbell provide some versatility in reserve but mostly contribute on special teams.
Former pro bowler Jason Sanders has missed six field goals and three extra points this season. His missed 51-yard field goal in the first half last week proved critical as Miami ultimately lost by two.
Thomas Morstead has handled punting duties all year. Interestingly, his gross punting average is identical to Braden Mann’s but his net average is one yard better.
In the return game, Wilson had been handling punt returns but Hill will take over from him this week with Holland also an option. Mostert has been the kickoff returner. Miami doesn’t have a long return all season.
In kick coverage, Bethel is the team’s best gunner but Van Ginkel has been the most productive tackler. Fejedelem and Crossen are also productive but they allowed a 103-yard touchdown against the Ravens in September. Van Ginkel also scored on a blocked punt return.
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